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Medina v. Macomb

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

March 14, 2018

JORGE MEDINA, Plaintiff,



         Plaintiff initiated this action on February 9, 2016, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging that Defendants violated his rights as secured by the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution by using excessive force against him, among other things. (Docket no. 1.) In an October 11, 2017 Opinion and Order, the Court granted a Motion to Compel filed by Plaintiff and ordered Defendants to pay the reasonable expenses and attorney's fees that Plaintiff incurred in bringing the Motion pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37. (Docket no. 23.) On October 30, 2017, Plaintiff's counsel submitted a Bill of Costs. (Docket no. 25.) With consent of the parties, this case has been referred to the undersigned to conduct all proceedings in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 636(c) and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 73. (Docket no. 12.) The Court has reviewed the Bill of Costs and is now ready to rule.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On October 7, 2016, Plaintiff served a set of twenty-two interrogatories upon Defendants Romita and Parisek and a set of twenty-one interrogatories upon Defendant Macomb County. (Docket no. 18 at 2-3; docket no. 18-1 at 1-17.) Defendants Romita and Parisek objected to and did not answer Interrogatory nos. 8-22 on the basis that they exceeded the maximum number of interrogatories, including discrete subparts, allowed under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 33(a)(1). (Docket no. 18 at 3; docket no. 18-1 at 26-33.) Defendant Macomb County objected to and did not answer Interrogatory nos. 20 and 21 on the same basis. (Docket no. 18 at 3; docket no. 18-1 at 49-50.) Plaintiff then filed a Motion to Compel, seeking a court order compelling Defendants to answer the aforementioned interrogatories and pay the costs and attorney's fees he incurred in filing the Motion. (Docket no. 18.) In an October 11, 2017 Order, the Court granted Plaintiff's Motion and ordered Defendants to provide full and complete answers to Plaintiff's interrogatories and pay the reasonable expenses and attorney's fees incurred by Plaintiff as a result of bringing the Motion. (Docket no. 23.) Pursuant to the Court's Order, Plaintiff submitted a Bill of Costs, through which he seeks a total of $3, 950.00 in attorney's fees for 11 hours of work. (Docket no. 25.) Defendants have not filed an objection.


         Rule 37(a)(5)(A) authorizes the Court to order the payment of “the reasonable expenses incurred [by the moving party] in making the motion, including attorney's fees.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(5)(A). To calculate a reasonable attorney's fees award, courts use the “lodestar method, ” which requires the court to multiply a reasonable hourly rate by the reasonable number of hours worked. Ellison v. Balinski, 625 F.3d 953, 960 (6th Cir. 2010). The Court “has broad discretion to determine what constitutes a reasonable hourly rate for an attorney.” Hett v. Bryant Lafayette and Assocs., No. 10-cv-12479, 2011 WL 740460, at *2 (E.D. Mich. Feb. 24, 2011) (Borman, J.) (quoting Wayne v. Vill. of Sebring, 36 F.3d 517, 533 (6th Cir. 1994)). But “[a]ccording to the law of this circuit, [the court] is required to adjust attorney fee rates to the local market rates for attorneys.” Swans v. City of Lansing, 65 F.Supp.2d 625, 647 (W.D. Mich. 1998) (citing Hadix v. Johnson, 65 F.3d 532, 536 (6th Cir. 1995)). In addition, the court considers the following factors when calculating the reasonableness of attorney's fees: “(1) the professional standing and experience of the attorney; (2) the skill, time and labor involved; (3) the amount in question and the results achieved; (4) the difficulty of the case; (5) the expenses incurred; and (6) the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client.” Miller v. Alldata Corp., 14 F. App'x 457, 468 (6th Cir. 2001).

         The Supreme Court has also provided guidance:

The most useful starting point for determining the amount of a reasonable fee is the number of hours reasonably expended on the litigation multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate. This calculation provides an objective basis on which to make an initial estimate of the value of a lawyer's services. The party seeking an award of fees should submit evidence supporting the hours worked and rates claimed. Where the documentation of hours is inadequate, the district court may reduce the award accordingly.
The district court also should exclude from this initial fee calculation hours that were not “reasonably expended.” Cases may be overstaffed, and the skill and experience of lawyers vary widely. Counsel for the prevailing party should make a good faith effort to exclude from a fee request hours that are excessive, redundant, or otherwise unnecessary, just as a lawyer in private practice ethically is obligated to exclude such hours from his fee submission.

Hensley v. Eckerhart, 461 U.S. 424, 433-34 (1983) (citation omitted).

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Reasonable Number of Hours

         Plaintiff's counsel attests that Plaintiff incurred attorney's fees in the amount of $3, 950.00 for 11 hours of work as a result of bringing the underlying Motion to Compel. (Docket no. 25.) Specifically, Attorney Nicholas E. Backos indicates that he spent 5 hours researching and drafting the Motion. (Id. ¶ 5.) Attorney Marcel S. Benavides indicates that he spent 2 hours drafting and reviewing the Motion and addressing the Joint Statement of Resolved and Unresolved Issues; 2 hours corresponding with Defendants' counsel; and 2 hours preparing and drafting the instant Bill of Costs. (Id. ¶¶ 5-7; docket no. 25-1.)

         In determining whether the time spent on a matter constitutes a reasonable number of hours, the Court pays attention to whether cases are overstaffed, that is, whether the hours expended were excessive, redundant, and unnecessary. To assure the reasonableness of the hours expended, attorneys are to give a court sufficient detail to evaluate the fee award. See Trustees of the Painters Union Deposit Fund v. Interior/Exterior Specialist Co., No. 05-70110, 2011 WL 204750 at *4 (E.D. Mich. Jan. 21, 2011) (Roberts, J.) (“Attorneys who seek fees have an obligation to maintain billing time records that are sufficiently detailed to enable courts to review the reasonableness of the hours expended on the case. The documentation offered in support of the hours charged must be of sufficient detail and probative value to enable the court to determine with a high degree of certainty that such ...

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